What to do when OCR does not recognize text.

A woman uses OCR technology on her phone to scan a document.

Learn what to do if your OCR software isn’t reading your documents.

Optical Character Recognition (OCR) technology converts scanned documents into digital files. This technology uses automation to turn a scanned document into a machine-readable PDF file. OCR can turn even handwritten pages into PDFs that you can then manage digitally. Struggling with OCR not recognizing text? There are a number of things you can try to troubleshoot and remedy the issue.

Why is my PDF not recognizing text?

There are several common reasons why OCR might fail to recognize text in a PDF. Addressing these common pitfalls can significantly improve OCR performance and ensure more accurate text recognition:

How to fix issues with OCR not recognizing text.

When scanning physical documents with Acrobat using OCR software, your pages will be instantly formatted and transcribed in the exact format of the original file. Because you can use custom fonts, you never have to worry about whether the fonts match, even if the original document was handwritten. But what if your OCR software is not recognizing text correctly? Here are some things you can check:

  1. Make sure you have a high-quality scan. Scanning with more dots per inch (DPI) will allow the software to read it more accurately.
  2. Scan your documents with plenty of light. If the scanned image is too dark, OCR technology may be unable to differentiate between some characters.
  3. Be sure your scan is straight. If the document is skewed when scanned, the characters can become unrecognizable.

Advantages of fixing an OCR recognition issue.

The benefits of using OCR to get text from an image far outweighs other methods. And there are many advantages to scanning physical documents and converting them to editable digital files. Perhaps the most obvious advantage is that you can save time by not having to enter data manually. With OCR technology, the software automatically converts the information into a digital format, which you can edit, share, and store electronically. Another advantage is that digitizing your documents can be a great way to protect them from damage or loss. If something happens to your physical documents, they may be lost forever. However, if they’re stored digitally, they’ll be safe and sound no matter what happens, so it’s worth troubleshooting to have peace of mind.

More troubleshooting for OCR not recognizing text

If your OCR software is not recognizing text you have scanned, double-check to ensure the image is clear, light, and straight. Make adjustments as needed and rescan your documents. In most cases, this will fix the issue. However, if the problem persists, consider the following additional troubleshooting steps to improve OCR accuracy and overcome potential obstacles:

Discover what more you can do with Adobe Acrobat to create, convert, share, and send PDFs.